President-Elect Donald Trump and Evangelicals, part 1

Presidential Election 2016 is over, and the president-elect is Donald Trump – reality star, business mogul, brand-unto-himself. White Evangelicals provided a big and important part of his support. So, how might Evangelicals view a Trump presidency? In part 1, I am looking at my own personal reaction to Trump’s victory; in part 2, I will examine some issues where Evangelicals should be opposed to President Trump; and in part 3, I will explore some God-honoring ways that Evangelicals might engage with parts of Mr Trump’s presidency. As always, these are my own thoughts and do not represent the stances of any church or organization.

[Note: this post was originally published at colecenterforbiblicalstudies.wordpress.com on Nov 30, 2016. It has since been removed from there and sits more happily here. Thanks.]

As you may know, I am in a house of all women (except for me and the dog, Jamie). Strong, smart women. My wife, Grace, is a strong, smart, accomplished woman, and we have our three strong and smart young women. And our women are big fans of women. We are feminist in that sense at our house – we celebrate the achievements and gifts that God has given to women. They are surrounded and protected by safe, loving, strong men, but our girls are the kinds of young women that regularly will tell me to “find the girl” while listening to the radio (“I want a girl singer”), watching sports (“I want to watch girls tennis”), reading books (In Narnia, Lucy is much more exciting than Edmund or Peter). They would rather listen to or watch a woman than a man. As a pastor and father, I want my daughters to recognize and celebrate the image of God revealed in women – as wives and mothers and daughters and leaders and doulas and midwives and doctors and lawyers and teachers and speakers and theologians and writers and artists and athletes and creative image bearers. Our middle one (she’s 5) got very interested in the presidential election, especially because a woman could be elected. Now, I was not interested in either of these candidates for president, but my one excitement was the possibility of telling my strong, smart, God-fearing daughters that a woman had been elected president of the United States. Tuesday night when they went to bed, I tucked them in and wondered if I would be able to wake them up in the morning with news that a woman had been elected. Instead, I told them that the woman had lost. Which is okay, God is still on His throne, and I really had no hope in either of them as president. Truly.

But I am disappointed for my daughters that instead of being able to tell them that, for the first time, the United States had elected a woman to be president, I was forced to tell them that a serial adulterer who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and would date his own daughter if he could has been elected. And I am not arguing that he shouldn’t be president,  or that anyone who voted for him is unfaithful to Christ – I’m genuinely not going to question the motives or vote of anyone: there are all kinds of things to consider when voting for president and very important reasons to vote for Mr Trump, and this was a particularly ugly election season all around. But there are portions of the country’s population who expected to be empowered by this election, and instead they feel very vulnerable. And groups that have been rightly disempowered in this country, such as white supremacists and neo-Nazis, are feeling empowered by this vote. That may or may not be President-Elect Trump’s responsibility, but they are seeing his election as an opportunity to spout some pretty vile stuff. As an American Christian, I am disappointed for the state of the nation.

White Evangelicals who did vote voted for Trump by a 4-1 margin. I would be very interested to see those numbers broken down – what percentage of white Evangelicals did not vote? Was that margin buoyed by a large number of older voters, while younger voters made up most of the 19% who voted against Mr Trump? Did a large group of younger white Evangelicals refuse to label themselves Evangelicals? Or, was this just the way things went – that old and young white Evangelicals voted for Mr Trump in huge numbers? It seems that most non-white Evangelicals voted against Mr Trump, and so once again we have a racial divide in the Church. In any case, I confess that I am disappointed that so many of my brothers and sisters chose to vote for such a vicious (in the technical sense, meaning a person with many vices) person. Again, I say that knowing that there are good reasons to vote for Mr Trump, and I truly do not judge any individual person who voted for him; but I am surprised and shocked that so many Evangelicals did. Almost no one would argue that Mr Trump is an icon of virtue, though many Evangelicals argued that voting for him was an ethical good. Perhaps most chose Trump because they view him as the lesser of evils (an ethical consideration that I find odd and alien to the Kingdom of God, but one which I guess I can understand), but many others see Mr Trump’s election as God’s hand of blessing on the nation. I am on the record on this blog as stating that Mr Trump and Secretary Clinton both represent beastly kinds of politics. As a white Evangelical, I am disappointed for what this election says about the state of white Evangelicalism in this country.

Overall, I guess I’m disappointed – for my daughters, for the state of the nation, and for the state of white Evangelicals. Not that Secretary Clinton lost but that we were left choosing between Clinton and Trump. Maybe Mr Trump will be a better president than Secretary Clinton would have been, and I had no more hope in a Clinton presidency than a Trump one. This election will give us a chance to resist the culture in different ways than we had originally thought. If Secretary Clinton had been elected, then conservative Christians had some strategies in mind for resisting her presidency. Now, we will need to develop different strategies for a different kind of resistance. The next two blog posts are my contribution to that resistance strategy.

Blessings in Christ our King,

Josh

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